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Hospitality sector has its say on best way to tackle rent debts from pandemic

Joanna Bourke
·2-min read
<p>Pubs were allowed to reopen for outdoors service on April 12 in England</p> (PA Archive)

Pubs were allowed to reopen for outdoors service on April 12 in England

(PA Archive)

With a ban on a business evictions due to finish at the end of June, the hospitality sector has come up with proposals on how to tackle £2.5 billion worth of pandemic-related unpaid rent bills.

Among the proposals the industry has put forward is extending the protection from evictions until the end of the year.

Recommendations from UKHospitality, which counts pub and restaurant owners among its members, follow the government’s call for evidence on the best way to withdraw or replace measures that were launched to help high street firms ride out the virus crisis.

A ban on business evictions came in last year and was most recently extended to the end of next month.

A number of firms are worried about how they will settle rent arrears from the last year, which UK Hospitality estimates is around £2.5 billion within its sector.

In a letter to housing secretary Robert Jenrick, UKHospitality has shared its recommendations. They include the development of a national-level adjudication process on ‘legacy rent debt’.

It said that process should aim to share the pain of closure between landlords and tenants, with at least 50% of debt written off for the period when operators had to close, and at least 25% written off for the time when firms were allowed to open, but restrictions that could impact sales were in place.

Deals already agreed between parties would not be affected by any adjudication.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, said: “The time has come to get this issue sorted. As a starting point, our overriding principle is that businesses and landlords have to share the pain caused by enforced closures and restrictions.”

Last week the property sector shared its views on how the industry and retailers and hospitality firms can move forward as lockdowns ease.

Landlords British Land, Landsec and the British Property Federation hope to have more time for resolving historic bills, but want new rents to be paid on time when the moratorium on business evictions ends.

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